No TV for Baby!

15 Dec

Technology is not always a good thing, something that parents of young children ought to be aware of. As a future parent, I find the trend towards more tech toys for babies to be troubling. Consider:

New media products for babies, toddlers and preschoolers began flooding the market in the late 1990's, starting with video series like "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby." But now, the young children's market has exploded into a host of new and more elaborate electronics for pre-schoolers, including video game consoles like the V.Smile and handheld game systems like the Leapster, all marketed as educational. Despite the commercial success, though, a report released yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers," indicates there is little understanding of how the new media affect young children – and almost no research to support the idea that they are educational.

Now I have no problem with a parent putting a baby in front of a "Care Bears" video for twenty minutes to balance the checkbook or cook dinner, so I definitely have no problem putting them in front of a "Baby Einstein" video for few minutes. However, the idea that this or other technology is going to give a child some sort of advantage in life is just not supported by any evidence. There are simply no documented benefits to out weigh the costs. In fact:

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time at all for babies under 2, out of concern that the increasing use of media might displace human interaction and impede the crucially important brain growth and development of a baby's first two years. But it is a recommendation that parents routinely ignore. According to Kaiser, babies 6 months to 3 years old spend, on average, an hour a day watching TV and 47 minutes a day on other screen media, like videos, computers and video games.

I will most likely plop my future progeny in front of the Tivo to keep them occupied at times. I mean, I already plop my cats in front of the TV to watch a DVD of birds, fish, and rodents to keep them busy and entertained. Therefore, I know I cannot guarantee zero screen time for my young children. I can however guarantee that the most technological thing they are going to have is a speak-and-spell and that they will not be playing on a computer until they start school.

Link: See Baby Touch a Screen. But Does Baby Get It? – New York Times.

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